Who Is a Probate Judge and What Do They Do?
If you recently lost a loved one, you need to familiarize yourself with who a probate judge is and what they do. Your deceased loved one’s estate will most likely go through the probate process, so it is best that you understand the role of a probate judge before the process begins. Probate is the legal process of determining how a decedent’s estate should be settled and distributed. This article explains who a probate judge is and what they do.
Who Is a Probate Judge?
A probate judge serves a crucial role in the probate process. A probate judge oversees the probate process, the person or people appointed as personal representatives of the estate, and the estate settlement. A probate judge decides legal matters related to the decedent’s estate. They make the final call for crucial decisions throughout the probate process.
A probate judge can hear matters on any estate, whether contested or uncontested, and whether there is or isn’t a Will. However, contests and the absence of a Will increase the need for the judge to intervene, whereas a case in which there are no contests and a Will is present may require little oversight from the judge.
What Are the Specific Roles of a Probate Judge?
A probate judge’s duties will depend on the specifics of the case. This is because the probate process is dealt with on a case-by-case basis. That said, the following are some of the possible roles of a probate judge;
- Giving the personal representative the go-ahead to start administering the estate
- Appointing an administrator to serve as the personal representative if there is no Will naming the executor
- Providing oversight on what the personal representative is supposed to do and how they are supposed to conduct themselves
- Determining who the heirs of an estate are in the case of someone who died intestate (without a Will)
- Conducting hearings
- Accepting contests and/or claims against the estate and examining evidence
- Granting authority for estate distribution
- Closing the estate
The Role of a Probate Judge When There Is No Will
As already mentioned, if there is no Will, it may increase the need for the probate judge to intervene. When a person dies without a Will, the probate judge will first need to appoint an administrator to serve as the personal representative. Additionally, the judge will need to use the state’s intestate succession laws to determine how the decedent’s estate will be distributed since there is no Will conveying the decedent’s wishes.
The Role of a Probate Judge When There Is a Contest
If there is a contest, the probate judge will need to provide more intervention. The judge will have to assess the evidence presented, listen to both sides of the story, and make a ruling regarding the contest. Examples of disputes that probate judges deal with include disputes about the validity of a Will, claims of being disinherited by accident, claims of fraud or elder abuse, and claims that the personal representative is mismanaging the estate.
Contact the Probate Guy for Legal Help
If you need more information, contact the skilled California probate attorney, Robert L. Cohen – The Probate Guy – today to schedule a consultation.
Southern California Probate Lawyer Serving Orange, Riverside, Anaheim, Whittier & Beyond.